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Chris Ballard joins a Colts team with plenty of questions

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

When a new president is inaugurated, the first 100 days generate a lot of attention because of their importance. For the Colts, there will be a similar situation over the next 100 days with their new general manager. Chris Ballard was hired last night as the next GM of the Colts, and consider what his first 100 days will consist of:

NFL Scouting Combine, 30 days away, February 28 - March 6

New League Year (Free Agency, etc.), 39 days away, March 9

NFL Draft, 88 days away, April 27-29

It won’t be fair to judge Ballard based solely on what he does this offseason, since building up this Colts team (and mainly the defense) will take time. But this is a critical time for Ballard to make some moves that, hopefully, stop the bleeding and at least give the Colts enough talent to return to the postseason even with Chuck Pagano as coach. The Colts will have plenty of money to spend and several draft picks to use on bringing in talent, and that focus should be mainly on the defensive side of the football.

To be clear, Ballard comes to a team with a lot of issues. Here are a few of them:

  • Chuck Pagano isn’t a good head coach and, while it may be true that Ryan Grigson was more to blame, it’s not like the Colts have a strong coach.
  • The defense in the past two years have been the two worst defenses, at least in terms of yards per game, that the Colts have had in their time in Indianapolis.
  • Their pass rushers are non-existent: Robert Mathis retired, while Trent Cole and Erik Walden are both set to become free agents - and even labeling that group as “pass rushers” is misleading. The Colts really don’t have anything going for them in the area of pass rush right now.
  • Their inside linebacker position was a mess last year, starting with the loss of Jerrell Freeman in free agency and then steamrolling into a season-long quest to find replacements, made worse when D’Qwell Jackson was suspended. If the Colts hope to seriously improve their run defense, the inside linebackers better be addressed.
  • Though there are no big-name or big-money free agents the Colts will have to re-sign, there are certainly some very interesting decisions that Ballard will have to make - decisions made more interesting by the fact that Ballard isn’t as committed to some of these guys as the previous regime was. So what about Mike Adams? Darius Butler? Jack Doyle? Erik Walden? Those are some the guys Ballard is going to have to make decisions on (as well as others), and it will be a key process.
  • The offensive line, though showing some semblance of improvement last season, is still very much a work in progress and certainly isn’t good yet. At best, it’s a solid run-blocking line and a below average pass-blocking line. The key for Ballard is going to be evaluating the talent the Colts have and determining which guys are worth continuing to develop. Ryan Grigson was high on several of these guys, but is Chris Ballard?
  • The running back position is also one that Ballard should be aware of, since Frank Gore will be 34 years old when next season rolls around. Gore had a productive 2016 season, but it’s impossible not to realize that the Colts need to be thinking about an explosive, young, dynamic back who could become the replacement to Gore. It’s not as crucial of a need as some others, but soon it will be - so it’s always best to be thinking ahead.

So for Ballard, there are a ton of questions with this Colts team. They’ve missed the playoffs in each of the past two years and are stuck in neutral as they enter Andrew Luck’s prime. That’s not where they want to be, and so now Ballard is tasked with putting together a team around Luck that can win a Super Bowl - or, as Jim Irsay has said, multiple Super Bowls.

There’s a lot of work to be done, but there’s one major thing going for Ballard: Andrew Luck. To have a GM job open up with a legitimate, young, top-tier franchise quarterback already in place is rare, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there was significant interest in the position. Ballard has a lot of work to do, particularly over the next 100 days, but he has Andrew Luck already in place. And that gives him a massive head start.